HP Cooltown notes

Last week, a tweet from @iotwatch pointed at a 14-year-old promo video for HP’s “Cooltown” project.

Perhaps this was Alex’s intention, but it actually stands up pretty well as a (somewhat cheesy) invocation of some actual usecases for IoT-type work for end users, which I reckon are largely missing (unlike the usecases from the corporate point of view where we gather all your data, or the smart city ones, where we gather all your data).

It prompted me to have a quick look at the site, now sadly defunct, having transitioned through something called “mobilebazar” to just a redirect to HP’s main site. Everything seems to be on archive.org; @timkindberg just pointed me to a cache elsewhere.

Here are a few rough notes. It relates quite closely to a number of things I’m working on, including an EU project, MediaScape and Radiodan. I’ll try and have more of a dig through at some point.


People, places, things: web presence for the real world
Tim Kindberg, John Barton, Jeff Morgan, Gene Becker, Debbie Caswell, Philippe Debaty, Gita Gopal, Marcos Frid, Venky Krishnan, Howard Morris, John Schettino, Bill Serra

  • “Web presence is the representation of people, places and things on the web. It extends the “home page” concept to include all physical entities and to include deliberate and automatic system supported correlation of the home page or point of web presence with the physical entity”
  • three categories: people, places, and things
  • everything has a web server physically associated with it, either on it or near it (a ‘gateway’ machine)
  • user’s pda can access available services via multicast over the LAN or directly via beacons or tags (infrared or RFID), possibly with a layer of indirection
  • potential problem – how people create new point of Web presence
  • interacts using restful web services
  • “To deliver the convienence potentially available with wireless networks, it should be possible to connect devices to networks spontaneously, and have them function with little or no human intervention. This implies more than just automatic IP address allocation. It implies automatic service discovery and registration: the ability for devices to discover appropriate services, and the ability for devices (and other service providers) to register their availability without human intervention.”
  • “Real places don’t always match network topology, they can physically overlap, and they may have fuzzy boundaries.
  • “what is to be included in a place is also a matter of policy” <– contextual and access privilages
  • no discovery protocol is identified that meets the criteria
  • web redirection for people
  • secure tunnelling for accessing documents from company servers
  • “We need sensing and service discovery technologies to feed the Web with URLs.”

The Context Toolkit: Aiding the Development of Context-Enabled Applications
Daniel Salber, Anind K. Dey and Gregory D. Abowd

  • interesting approach to abstracting sensor information into small reusable components
  • “Context widgets can be composed to provide richer context information while reusing existing widgets. For example, composing the IdentityPresence and Activity widgets could provide a simple Meeting widget. By combining the information about the presence of people at a location and an estimate of their activity, one can roughly detect if the people are engaged in a meeting or if they are just sitting in the same place and no collaborative activity is taking place.”

A web-based nomadic computing system
Tim Kindberg and John Barton

  • practicalities of authoring: “The place master can initiate the place with a web-based form. The form processing can return a barcode to be printed and attached to her booth. She walks up to a series of objects with her PDA, reads their barcodes, and binds them in the new place.”
  • “One of the most difficult problems is rendezvous (presence-tying)”… tell it the url of the place; or, search for a known ip printed on it; or has a prestent id on the web
    direct content post “The only agreement we need between sources and sinks is the format of the data”… “The format of this introductory or “meta-” data has to be widely agreed upon and stable over time; our approach is to use an ASCII encoded XML format carried in a MIME entity”
  • “We should also allow “content-negotiation”, that is the source and sink should be able to exchange information on the formats they support to select a common and appropriate one”
  • “Indirect content post” (a link rather than direct transfer)
  • settings: “For example, we can have the camera issue a GET to the printer’s web server and have the printer return an XML or HTML form listing the possible options. Once the camera user has selected the settings, the new settings and the image can be transferred to the printer”

Semantic Location
Salil Pradhan

  • Semantic location – physical location represented by a uri – may help with privacy concerns